Category Archives: Blog

Why Street Cats ?: One Artist’s Vision to Start a Record Label-Part 1

Street Cats postAs told by Mynah Marie, Singer, Songwriter, pianist, accordionist, composer, and Street Cats Records Founder.

When I started working on my own company, Street Cats Records, I remember talking to my friends about it and being all excited and full of promises. I consider myself extremely lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful human beings. As I was sitting there telling my story I could see everybody getting excited with me, wanting to contribute or be part of it in any kind of way. Still one question remained…. “Why did you call your label Street Cats Records? Why Street Cats?” One of my friends even told me (and I say this with all the love in the world) : “ I thought you would come up with something more creative…” Ouch! That one hurt a bit. But feedback is important, especially the comments you don’t necessarily want to hear, and the people who know you well and still dare giving you those comments are even more precious then the comments themselves. At the same time, that comment pushed me to tell the story and as I went further along the lines of past events that pushed me to call my company Street Cats I saw his opinion about the name change. So maybe it’s worth it to write the story down, in case there are other people out there who are wondering (or will maybe wonder one day) why.

First off, for those of you who are asking what the F$%k is the connection between street cats and music, let me answer to that easily, there is none. Absolutely no connection. Have you ever read a list of Indie labels? A lot of Indie labels have absurd names, some even border ridiculous (for example I think the name Dancing Ferret is quite funny, nothing against it don’t get me wrong). So I thought to myself, is there was ever an industry or a business where I can choose a name that is completely personal and artistic it has to be the record business.

Rumpelstilkskin OUR Inner Selves Encouraging Us To Spin Gold

While we know him to be a devil who tricks the Miller’s daughter into promising her first born child and then becoming enraged when she discovers his name, there is a different piece to Rumpelstiltskin we should consider. Rumpelstiltskin as the piece of ourselves who forces us to believe that we can in fact turn anything into gold. As you recall from the story, the Millers daughter finds herself in this mess when her father brags about her ability to spin anything into gold. Calling his bluff, the King invites the Miller’s daughter (more like imprison’s her) to prove that she can in fact turn rooms of straw (hay) into gold. In despair, she wonders how she is going to do it until the trickster, Rumpelstiltskin appears to complete the task ultimately winning her a position as a royal and saving her live.

There are many ways in which this tale can be interpreted but I want to shed light on the possibility as Rumple as our other self encouraging us to spin gold, even if it sounds crazy. Have you ever been in a situation when you thought your idea was crazy? Perhaps you did not pursue something because it was too bold, or something that just would be unbelievable to others? Rumpelstiltskin is the part of ourselves that summons that bold, the incredible and even the daring parts in order to “spin gold.”

How are you going to go forward and dare to spin gold in your life?

When is the Last Time You Played? Play as Vital to Creativity

Last week I was walking home through one of my usual routes which included a short cut through a playground of a school.  The playground was empty because it was late in the day, but I noticed a father and his young daughter playing.  As I approached, she gently pulled away from her father and walked toward the path I was approaching with a big smile on her face. “Hi” she exclaimed loudly still smiling as she continued to engage “Want to play with us?”   I came to a complete stop and met the little girl at eye level responding back with a smile “I am sorry I can’t play with you both right now but I hope you enjoy.”  As I bid her and her father a good-bye I smiled for the rest of the time home.

 

This was not just an adorable incident but something about it that struck me for many reasons.  As we get older, that simple invitation to play or even extend such a thing to each other diminishes or disappears altogether.    Play is well documented as key in the child’s development especially in regards to creativity.  As we transition into adulthood, the concept of play is easily forgotten but it still has a high value in nurturing our creative inclinations.

 

Giving yourself permission to play with the same ease and openness that was extended to me that day by that little girl adds value in creating new ideas, helping to solve problems or de-stress from busy days or work weeks.  Maybe you are not ready or perhaps feel foolish engaging in some of your previous childhood games (for example, one of my favorite involved rolling down a grassy hill).   On the other hand, there are other ways to think about play and how it can work in your life.  I had a friend who made sure to add time each week to play his video games because they ultimately helped to encourage him to see more than one way of solving some of his other challenges in life.  I knew another individual who always had a favorite outdoor game that he included into his busy schedule, it was non-negotiable to miss his weekly connection or play.  I personally like to indulge in playing innocent pranks or practical jokes that leave me and my friends erupting into laughter.  Other times, it is as simple as swinging on the swings on a summer day just like I did when I was a little girl just to feel the rise and drop of my stomach.

 

When is the last time you allowed yourself to play and what did it contribute to your creativity?   When was the last time the world became your sandbox or scheduled a playdate for yourself?  Perhaps reconnecting and inviting yourself to play will also be a way that you can invite yourself to tap into creating something new whether it is an idea, solving a challenging problem, or attempting to create art.

 

We will leave you some suggestions from The Importance of Play for Adults article written by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

 

  • Take a play history. What did you do as a child that excited you? Did you engage in those activities alone or with others? Or both? How can you recreate that today?

 

  • Surround yourself with playful people. Select friends who are playful – and engage in playing with your loved ones.

 

  • Play with little ones. Playing with kids helps us experience the magic of play through their perspective.

Using Letters As A Bridge

A few years ago I noticed that letters were surfacing that  were being used as a way to create dialogue.  There were open letters supposedly written by fathers or mothers to their daughters, open letters between faceless (and sometimes famous) lovers, and the list goes on.

For my creative flow I have often used letters as a bridge to the intimate as well as the creative.  When I was a teenager I had a couple of pen pals.  One who lived in the states who was a former classmate and the other who was a classmate who traveled between the U.S. and India often.  There was something special about receiving a letter that was addressed to me and waiting  for the right time to read it.

There was also something special about crafting the response or return letter.  Including nuggets of what was happening in my life, sharing news and asking questions while anticipating the responses.  For my writing, I’ve returned to the concept of the letter as an art form, but this time, I notice that I use them as ways of having a conversation while building the bridge to the mysterious.  My most recent project was an open letter that I wrote to my younger former self sprinkled with wisdom, tips, and all sorts of other goodies of what could or might be.

If you were to craft a letter, either open or otherwise, who would you write to?  Would you write a letter to yourself and bury it away?  Would you write a letter to a lover or loved one?  Is the letter to someone who has passed on?  Or perhaps your letter might be to a beloved place or thing, like the city you wish to see or to the car that you reluctantly had to abandon.

Here is what we want to assign to you, write a letter, not the letter you send, but the one you use as your bridge to a conversation, a dialogue, or just to have connection.  Think about what you want to say and perhaps this will be one of many letters.  Be as creative as you want, use imagery in the place where words just won’t do.

Allow the letter to be everything from your liberation to your bridge to your time capsule.  With this letter that you craft either with visuals, drawings or words, allow it to take you to the impossible.

He For She India

Some time ago, I stumbled on the video of Emma Watson’s speech at the UN. By the time the video was over, I was in tears. Not out of sadness but out of immense JOY. “Why?”, you might ask. “There is nothing joyful about gender inequality!”. That’s true. But the thing that filled me with joy wasn’t the “what”, it was the HOW. It’s about time that someone like Emma stood up to talk about gender inequality with COMPASSION. No issue has ever been resolved by holding a one-sided perspective. One-sided perspectives are what divide us as human beings. These kinds of attitudes are what create judgement and intolerance which in turn can lead to conflicts, violence, racism and wars.

Emma Watson, thank you. Thank you 100 000 times. Because of your sensitivity, courage and compassion you have opened the door to honest communication between men and women around the globe.

No one is perfect, we all know that. Man or woman, the truth is, we are all at fault. Have you ever been in an endless argument with a loved one feeling that the other person is so defensive that there is no room for a constructive exchange? Sometimes for the argument to end the only thing to do is to let go and accept our imperfections. But that only works if both people do the same, both sides have to decide to let their guards down and meet in a space of acceptance.

This is what Emma gave us. As a representative of women around the globe, she stood in front of the world and opened the door to acceptance, understanding and tolerance. In the name of women she apologized for mistakes made in the past, admitting our imperfections. And more importantly, she gave a break to men. She acknowledged how difficult it must be to be a man today and live up to all that it implies. She looked up to the men in the audience saying that she wasn’t there to judge but to understand and help them too. Living with an open heart is not an easy thing. It’s scary and it hurts. But Emma did the hardest part for us already. All we have to do now is follow her example, let our guards down, and allow each other to meet in this virtual space of peace and acceptance. I leave you with this important question: “Are we brave enough to dig deep into our personal heritage as a human being (personal story, gender, culture, education, etc…), and examine ourselves in order to understand what brought us apart? ” It’s all wonderful to say that we are against gender inequality but the truth is, if we really want to change something, it means WE have to change. And that means looking at stuff about OURSELVES that are really not pretty. It’s the 21st century, we live in the science- fiction movies that we used to watch as kids thinking that there was no way that one day we would achieve the same things as the heroes on our screens. Yet we did it, a lot of those impossible things are now reality. No one can convince me that something as natural and beautiful as Love is impossible to achieve when in the meantime we are talking about populating the moon or modifying DNA. It doesn’t make sense. The good news is, if we see that it doesn’t make sense then we can change it. And all the great things human kind has achieved are testimonials of our inner power. I choose to believe this. So I’m asking again, are we willing to go down the rabbit hole together, no matter how deep or challenging, for the benefit of positive change? I know I am.

To Boldly Go….What We Can Learn from Leonard Nimoy

Leading a creative live is fulfilling but there is a small price to pay.  The reality is that everyone around you may not understand all of the creative lives you currently lead or will ever lead.  Actually, I can promise you that this will be the case.

 

“Being known in one area of the arts and wanting to move into another is complicated. In a certain way, you get attention because of who you are, but you also get a certain amount of resistance.”

 

Leonard Nimoy, famously known as Dr. Spock on the original series Star Trek is a perfect example.  Shortly after his death, there were many quotes, articles and commentary that exploded all over the internet and of course on social media.  Many posts with the comments, “I did not know Nimoy was a photographer.”

Nimoy wasn’t just any photographer, but one with great depth adding another dimension to our perception of the human form through his artistic endeavors.  As I saw some of the comments I even recalled out loud to myself,  “Oh yes, that’s right, he was a photographer, I missed his exhibit that was held in Northampton.  What a life!”  Yet images of my childhood filled with remembrances of Dr. Spock easily flooded my brain.  Nimoy commented on the complications of moving from one art form to another and some of the constraints within that, especially from the public who may place you in one role.

Some of us may never be a character such as Dr. Spock or be bold enough to explore various fields of talent like Nimoy did.  However, his existence is encouragement to not only explore and adventure, but to be different creative and artistic selves regardless of the box that many may create for you.  Think about all of the different imaginings that family, friends, partners, lovers, and most around you may envision your creative life different than what you see or live?  Or can you recall a time when you shared information about a favorite hobby or a passion, and someone who thought they “knew” you was surprised and/or continued to only remember you within the narrow space that they carved crafted for you?

Here is my point and what I want all of us to draw from how Leonard Nimoy lived–be audacious and and don’t feel compelled to just be or choose one thing in your professional or creative life.  Cultivate many selves in our life as opposed to forcing the premature death of your other selves (creative, professional or otherwise).

Approach your creative life and passions with a wild adventurous spirit regardless of whether or not others around you will understand it.  And if you decide to place that creative exploratory upon a shelf in the mythical land of someday, just make sure it is not because the life of that passion imposes upon someone else’s vision for you.